Stuart Young, Minister of National Security

There have been instances where attorneys have secured the release of detained Venezuelans and after those foreigners disappeared into T&T and were on the “loose”, it was found they’d tested positive for the COVID–19 virus.

National Security Minister Stuart Young confirmed this at yesterday’s post–Cabinet media briefing where he said an Express editorial had not gotten the other side of the story regarding 93 Venezuelans taking legal action on repatriation orders.

He said all laws were observed and no stay of removal order was made by the courts or breached.

Young spoke about instances of Venezuelans with COVID being at large in T&T as concerns continued simmering in T&T that not only some T&T citizens aren’t fully complying with mask regulations but some Spanish-speaking foreigners working or residents in several sectors, aren’t either.

Yesterday morning’s COVID figures from the Health Ministry showed a total of 2,019 positive cases including 110 new cases and 67 deaths.

On the repatriation matter, Young said Government was taking measures to protect the public in the pandemic but some counterproductive orders were being done and some lawyers were applying to the court to have detained people released.

Young said when some of those people were released before, COVID tests they’d taken, subsequently showed they were positive for the virus. But by then they had disappeared into T&T and no one knew where they went since they’d entered illegally and no proper recording was done.

He said it was a small number – one person and another set of three people who had to be traced.

“So we’re looking to minimise the risks. I’ve asked for senior counsel to be brought in (on the repatriation issue) and with Immigration we’ll fight those matters in court,” he said.

Young said creed, race or colour didn’t matter in this situation except doing what was necessary to keep T&T’s population safe. He noted like all over the world, public constitutional rights can be suspended for the state to protect citizens in pandemic situations.

Concerns were raised yesterday that some Venezuelans aren’t understanding the danger of the virus and the need to abide by COVID regulations. This, given Venezuelans’ survival mode especially and that many work in or around public places.

Guardian Media received information that a foreign member of a construction crew working on a Woodbrook building became ill and the rest of the crew was quarantined halting the work.

That building is in a busy location.

It was also observed up to yesterday that members of a Spanish-speaking construction crew at another nearby site were not all masked. When Guardian Media urged one barefaced worker to use a mask, he didn’t acknowledge and never put on one.

At a party held in a small apartment within a Newtown complex last Saturday where Venezuelans were present, one T&T citizen nearby had to appeal to an attendee – in whose honour the party was held – to wear a mask and have guests do so and social distance. Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh said he’d’ look into the issues.

NGOs must help Venezuelans comply—Police

Yesterday the T&T Police Service’s Communication Division responded to Guardian Media’s queries on what could be done to ensure foreigners especially Venzeuelans understand COVID dangers and comply with regulations. The TTPS appealed to NGOs and social groups assisting Venezuelans to reinforce compliance with the regulations.

The TTPS stated there are no statistics on foreign nationals, rergarding breaches of the mask regulations.

On the number of those arrested who were being deported, the TTPS stated that was 307.

UNC MP Rodney Charles, citing the landing of 40 Venezuelans who evaded police, added, “The growing number of unknown, undocumented migrants coming ashore at various points along T&T’s porous borders and disappearing into communities needs to be addressed urgently.”

“There’s no way of detecting how many of these individuals have COVID-19. With the already large amount of migrants, they easily blend in and settle into routines which can further spread the virus. Moreover, if they do become ill, some may not seek treatment at public health facilities.”

One southern resident said while some Venezuelans work hard, this image is sometimes marred by others “who are here to take what they can get.”

They detailed how a young Venezuelan woman was hired by three families in different capacities but when her family members arrived in T&T and locals offered them the same work, her relatives demanded more money.

“To see the movement of the illegal immigrants all one has to do is come out as dusk falls as they believe they blend into the landscape. They believe T&T citizens wouldn’t know who’s illegal or not.”